Browsing Tag

Cultural Heritage

Cultural tours in China

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Are you having an idea for a  trip to China and want to have a taste of their cultural heritage, make it a point to visit the Mogao Caves, which are located near the city of Dunhuang.


About the Caves
The Mogao Caves in China are a World Heritage Site. It is located in Dunhuang County, Gansu Province of China. These caves are also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and consist of 492 temples that are built over five levels over a 1000 year long period. It is believed that the first work on the first caves was started in 366 AD, long before Buddhism came to be officially recognized as a religion in the region. The majority of the caves were sculpted between the 5th century and 14th century AD. Legend has it that a Buddhist monk had a vision of a thousand Buddhas at the site and this led him to construct the first cave. Gradually, other monks also joined him.

The most famous of the caves is the Library cave or Cave No. 17. It was discovered in 1900 by a monk by the name of Abbot Wang. The Library cave houses thousands of documents, some of which are more than 1000 years old. While most of the documents are in Chinese, there are also a large number of documents in other languages, pointing perhaps to the inter mingling of different cultures and languages that the region saw. The caves are a treasure trove of murals and paintings that depict various historical and religious events of those times.

A painting on silk found in the Library Cave  A Mural Painting

Out of the 492 caves, only a few are today open to the general public. There is no artificial lighting within the caves; hence tourists are advised to visit the caves in the morning or early afternoon. It is also recommended to carry a flashlight in your luggage in case the natural light is not good enough. Photography is not allowed within the caves.

How to get there
The nearest town/ city to the Mogao caves is Dunhuang. From Dunhuang, one can take a direct taxi or a mini-bus to take you to the caves. The caves are usually open throughout the year and the visiting times are from 8AM – 6PM.

One may come into Dunhuang by air from Beijing or Lanzhou. The city airport does not have a proper taxi stand and tourists have to avail of public buses, which are few and usually crowded. Alternatively, one may walk down to the railway station which is only 10 mins walk from the airport and avail city buses from there to the city. A few China Private Tours organizers (like www.chinatourstailor.com) also arrange for airport pick up and guided tours to the caves.

 

A fairytale city in Estonia: Tallinn

Tallinn

Estonia is a beautiful European country that highlights a tumultuous history, great cultural heritage, and superb attractions for international travelers. After its independence in 1991, it’s capital Tallinn was named Europe’s most optimistic towns. In the past, all you could see in Tallinn was a mass of grey, but things have changed over the years. Right now, Tallinn is a breathtaking pastel-painted World Heritage city. Each and every building has a story to tell, so exploring the city will certainly be a memorable experience.

Wander around town

Avid travelers will love wandering around this spectacular old city to admire the beautifully painted homes and churches. The antique feeling and the amazing smell of hot spiced almonds will simply blow your mind.

Considering that Tallinn features such a turbulent history, tourists might seem curious to know more. The city’s underground bastion tunnels (built during the late seventeenth century) will bring you back to the old days. On top of these tunnels you’ll find Kiek in de Kok, an impressive medieval defensive tower with old objects used in during the wars. To enjoy an absolutely breathtaking landscape over the town, you can have a cup of coffee at the soothing café situated on the top floor.

Continue your journey on Toompea Hill and you’ll have the possibility to delight your eyes with an unmatched sight of the lower old town. When you return, stop for a few minutes and enjoy a delicious coffee at Bogapott, a charming family-run business located in a tiny courtyard, and which comprises a lovely pottery workshop, a nice café, and a small shop from where you can purchase marvelous handmade crockery.

Tallinn’s Art

Enjoy Tallinn’s art by strolling around the city. Check out the stunning gallery referred to as Kumu and you’ll definitely be impressed. The building alone is truly appealing, and what’s inside will dazzle you even more.

Permanent collections that will take your breath away and the small nearby café will make this place a perfect travel spot in Tallinn. If you’re not that fond of galleries, you should consider going to the Rotermann Quarter, an area that comprises several newly-repaired warehouses and which also hosts Loovala, an impressive open studio where you can watch artists at work, purchase amazing creations, and even design your own art pieces in the attractive workshops.

Dining

International restaurants are at your disposal in Tallinn, but if you wish to enjoy genuine Estonian hospitality combined with a contemporary twist, nAnO restaurant is your best bet. It is situated right within the bohemian residence of the well-known fashion icon Beatrice Mass. There, you have the possibility to taste delicious dishes in a really peaceful setting.  If you’re interested in a more traditional dining experience, check out Stenhus, which is located beneath a cobbled street. Did you know that Tallinn serves the best hot chocolate in the world? The oldest courtyard of the town accommodates Chocolats de Pierre, an ideal place where you to take a break and warm up. This charming café serves handmade chocolates, and it has a lot of stories to tell to its guests.

As far as alcohol is concerned, you should know that beer is probably the city’s most acclaimed drink, but wine is also gaining popularity, since more and more restaurants pompously exhibit their vinous credentials by crowding their windows with all sorts of used corks. There’s no doubt that Tallinn is unique from the culinary point of view. The food, the people, and ultimately, their spectacular surroundings will convince you the destination is a genuine Estonian fairytale city.

Shopping areas

Don’t expect to find exclusive shops within Tallinn, because the city is much more proud of its traditional markets and handicrafts. The “Home of the Christmas tree” will take place this year in the Rotermann quarter, and there you will have the possibility to come across a plethora of lovely gifts, including decorations, pieces of art, handmade soaps, and knitted clothes. If you want to see how strong your liver can be, try the legendary local liquor referred to as Vana Tallinn. Be careful though, it’s not for everyone!

All things considered, Tallinn is Europe’s most traditional, cultural, and welcoming cities. The beautiful attractions and really nice people will help worldwide travelers have the time of their life in Tallinn.